Australasia

One Nation deal the greatest attack on ABC independence in decades

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The Coalition-One Nation proposals to overhaul the ABC Act represent the greatest assault on the broadcaster’s independence in a generation Bernard Keane Crikey The governments proposed deal with One Nation to secure its media ownership reforms will be β€” easily β€” the greatest assault on the ABCs independence in decades, far outstripping anything the Howard government proposed. The deal, announced by Pauline Hanson and Communications Minister Mitch Fifield yesterday, involves a rewrite of the ABC charter, other amendments to the ... Read More »

Is liking something on Facebook ‘protected political speech’? It depends

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Australians are often surprised to learn that their Constitution contains no right to free speech. Even the right to political speech, which is constitutionally implied, is increasingly complicated by new online platforms where people can express their views. Melissa Castan  The Conversation The Australian Public Service Commission’s (APSC) recent guidance for public servants shone a spotlight on the issue. It advises employees they could be in breach of their code of conduct for liking or sharing posts on Facebook that are critical of the ... Read More »

No Viking funerals: Choosing what happens to my body when I die limited by law

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If you’re looking to leave this world in a flaming ship pushed out to sea or being left to the vultures in a sky burial, you will need to think again. Mark Rigby ABC In the Northern Territory, like all other Australian states and territories, there are only two ways a body can be legally disposed of — burial or cremation. While the definition of cremation is to consume by fire, you cannot have a funeral pyre erected in the ... Read More »

Peter Dutton abandons detention centre secrecy rules amid High Court challenge

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Exclusive The Turnbull government has quietly abandoned strict secrecy provisions governing Australia’s immigration detention system, in a major victory for refugee advocates who challenged the laws in the High… Adam Gartrell The Age Immigration Minister Peter Dutton has put forward amendments to the 2015 Australian Border Force Act that will effectively strip out rules that threatened detention centre workers – including teachers, lawyers and social workers – with two years in prison if they spoke out about neglect or… The ... Read More »

Computer says no: Irish vet fails oral English test needed to stay in Australia

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Louise Kennedy, a native English speaker with two degrees, says flawed technology is to blame An Irish veterinarian with degrees in history and politics has been unable to convince a machine she can speak English well enough to stay in Australia. Australian Associated Press The Guardian Louise Kennedy is a native English speaker, has excellent grammar and a broad vocabulary. She holds two university degrees – both obtained in English – and has been working in Australia as an equine ... Read More »

Official Immigration File Reveals One Nation Senator Was A British Citizen

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Exclusive: BuzzFeed News has obtained the official immigration file of Malcolm Roberts, showing the One Nation senator signed as a British citizen when he was 19-years-old. Mark Di Stefano BuzzFeed Official family immigration records obtained by BuzzFeed News reveal anti-immigration senator Malcolm Roberts personally signed that he was a British citizen. The fresh documents have come to light as calls grow louder for the Indian-born senator to be referred to the High Court over concerns he was a dual British ... Read More »

We need the voices of public servants in the political debate. Their free speech is in peril

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Praising your agency is welcome, but not criticising it – new social media guidelines continue a troubling trend of silencing public servants John Wilson and Kieran Pender  The Guardian John Wilson is the managing legal director of Bradley Allen Love Lawyers Kieran Pender is a freelance journalist and legal researcher Another day, another attack on the ability of public servants to participate in Australian democracy. On Monday the Australian Public Service Commission (APSC) released revised guidance on how federal government ... Read More »

How to fight racism, or why we all need to mourn my aunt

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My aunt was buried last Friday, the last of her generation in my family. We were not close but out of respect for her son, my cousin, I went along to the service. Jenna Price Brisbane Times Jewish services for the dead are Spartan yet comforting. There are no endless eulogies, just a brief summary of the facts as we know them. My aunt and her sister were marched to Ravensbruck sometime in 1943. I never knew much of the ... Read More »

Downplaying sexual assault to attack the Human Rights Commission is a new low

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In denouncing a survey into university sexual assaults, rightwing ideologues aren’t just tormenting survivors – they’re ignoring the nationwide response. Allison Henry Allison Henry is the campaign director for The Hunting Ground Australia Project The Guardian When we started The Hunting Ground Australia Project two years ago we knew the day would come when the rightwing ideologues would come after us. There had been some savage responses to the documentary in the US and we expected that our campaign to ... Read More »

Yassmin Abdel-Magied: where were my free-speech defenders?

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Andrew Bolt, are you up to the challenge? Mechanical engineer, author and social justice activist Yassmin Abdel-Magied has provoked the right-wing columnist: “If Andrew Bolt cares so much about freedom of speech as much as he reckons, he should have defended… Timna Jacks The Age “Where were all the defenders of freedom of speech in my case?” Ms Abdel-Magied – who describes herself the most “publicly hated Muslim in Australia” – made the comments after months of intense criticism following a Facebook post on ... Read More »

How a charter of rights could protect Australians’ fundamental freedoms

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Australia’s record of human rights protection in areas such as Indigenous people, asylum seekers and freedom of speech are perennial topics of debate. The focus of these discussions is now shifting to whether Australia can take steps to establish a stronger legal framework for protecting human rights. How a charter of rights could protect Australians’ fundamental freedoms George Williams Daniel Reynolds The Conversation One reason for this is Australia is in the final stages of defending its record in a ... Read More »

Australian Public Service Commission social media guidance sparks anger

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If the politicians who oversee Canberra’s public service workforce had to comply with a new social media dictate about public comments, Treasurer Scott Morrison would be the first person in trouble. Editorial The Canberra Times The guide on making comments through social media channels, issued by Public Service Commission boss John Lloyd on Monday, says “liking” a post on Facebook or Twitter “will generally be taken to be an endorsement of that material as though you’d created that material yourself”. ... Read More »

Inquiry into The Status of the Human Right to Freedom of Religion or Belief

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Time did not permit Liberty Victoria to address in full all aspects of the Terms of Reference for this Inquiry. Liberty Victoria Submitted To: Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Our concerns therefore centred on “3 — The relationship between the freedom of religion or belief and other human rights, and the implications of constraints on the freedom of religion or belief for the enjoyment of other universal human rights” (ToR 3). In particular we considered the balancing of freedom ... Read More »

Australian mining company in prosecution spotlight for role in Congo massacre

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The African Commission on Human and People’s Rights has urged the Government of the Democratic Republic of Congo to re-open the criminal investigation into the role an Australian company, Anvil Mining, played in a massacre of 70… HRLC In the landmark ruling, the African Commission found the Government of the Democratic Republic of Congo responsible for the 2004 massacre in the southeast of the country, but it also highlighted Anvil Mining’s role in supplying logistical support to the… Anvil Mining operated a ... Read More »

Trump’s Base of Support Is Collapsing

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The president never had a proper mandate, but the resistance is no longer a voice of opposition. It now speaks for the great American majority. John Nichols The Nation Donald Trump did not win the presidency by the standard measures of democracy. Fifty-four percent of the Americans who cast ballots on November 8, 2016 favored someone else, and Hillary Clinton won almost 3 million more votes than Trump. Only an antiquated remnant of an 18th-century instinct toward oligarchy—an Electoral College designed by Trump’s Base ... Read More »

The leaked transcript of Turnbull’s call with Trump shows him at his worst

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Turnbull’s government has called refugees “illegal” and treats them as criminals. It is a lie on which the Coalition has made itself popular. Julian Burnside * The Guardian * Julian Burnside is an Australian barrister and refugee advocate About a week after Donald Trump was inaugurated as president of the United States, he had a phone conversation with Australian prime minister Malcolm Turnbull. The call focused on the deal earlier done with the Obama administration, under which the US would take a ... Read More »